Peaceful demonstrations across more than 100 cities have led to new policing policies, the toppling of Confederate statues and renewed discussions about how to end systemic racism.
Now, some agents say the charged political climate could have an impact on their client transactions. And with the 2020 presidential election drawing closer, more campaign signs will reappear on lawns and in windows, and agents may need to learn how to navigate them, real estate professionals told Inman.
Marina Yousefian, a real estate agent with Long & Foster in Annapolis, Maryland, said a recent potential buyer of one of her condo listings was turned off by the property when they saw that another resident had a Trump campaign sign in their window.
“One buyer has walked away from the property, just because someone in the actual building had a Trump sign in his window,” Yousefian told Inman.
Yousefian initially took the encounter as a one-off blip, but the impact of the political sign has followed her subsequent ad campaigns for the listing.
“I thought that was just a one-time thing,” Yousefian said. “And then I was running an ad, and I saw another comment regarding Trump.”
Yousefian seemed a bit baffled because she said she tries to treat everyone the same, despite their political leanings.
“As a real estate agent, I don’t want to be involved in anything that is political or has to do with protected classes,” she said. “I do believe in equality in America, but I try not to get involved. For me, everyone is equal, I treat everyone equally.”
Rowena Dasgupta, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty in New York City, had a similar scenario occur when showing a couple and the wife’s parents a home in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, a few months after the 2016 election.
“We’d been looking three months … for the ideal house and the parents were involved in the decision,” Dasgupta told Inman. “It checked all the boxes, it was below their budget, move-in ready … but the people next door had a massive, in-your-face sign as Trump supporters.”
Dasgupta said she saw her clients take note of the Trump sign before looking at the house, and Dasgupta avoided commenting on it. But, when they were done looking at the house and went back outside again, it was clear that it had made a negative impact on their decision.
Afterwards, Dasgupta said the couple even asked the seller’s agent, “What’s wrong with the people next door?” After the encounter with the neighbor’s sign, they wouldn’t consider the home.
On the other hand, some agents told Inman the recent protests and heightened political tensions in a presidential election year haven’t made much of a difference on their business so far.
The most impact Milena Liguori, a real estate agent with Calcagni Real Estate in Hamden, Connecticut, said she’s seen is on buyers’ willingness to go to home showings when protests might be occurring.
“For about a week and a half [during daily protests] people were really nervous, and we didn’t do showings like we usually do on those weekends,” Liguori told Inman. “As far as the political side, I didn’t really see any negative effect with my buyers or sellers,” she added. “But, I can definitely see where people might be coming from on that.”
Jon Walker, CEO and managing broker of the Jon Walker Real Estate Group at Keller Williams in Spokane, Washington, said he hasn’t seen any specific instances of politics getting in the way of a transaction as of yet, but could understand how it might.
“I think Washington’s a good state for that,” Walker told Inman. “One side’s very democratic, and the other’s really republican. So, if I had a client with a listing, I might suggest that they take [political signs] down, just because of how crazy people are with politics right now.”
“I could see it potentially affecting property value,” he added.
In the nation’s political hub of Washington, D.C., surprisingly, the housing market seems to be less affected by the tense political scene.
“In the D.C. metro area, people seem to be much more focused on competition and winning [a bid], especially if they’ve been in the market a while and haven’t been winning otherwise,” Billy Buck, president and CEO of Buck & Associates in Arlington, Virginia, told Inman. “The fact that the protests came down Wilson Boulevard [a main thoroughfare], I don’t think it made Wilson Boulevard any less attractive.”
The area’s low inventory and intense market competition are enough for buyers to worry about.
“I’d say without exception [political tension is] a far distant second to being able to find a home in the D.C. metro area and get settled,” Buck said. “The sense of urgency has outweighed the political noise, if you will.”
But Buck added, “It doesn’t mean the protests are any less important.”